The grey earth has just begun
To smear itself with rouges;
The homeless yet to return
To their public park benches.
In my dream you are nested
Dark and warm on my pillow,
But I wake to fine, cold rain
On this pale first day of May.
Tune: “Sand of Silk-Washing Brook”
by Li Qingzhao
Spring colors, mild and rippling,
Usher in Cold Food Day. 1
Wisps of dying incense smoke
Wreathe the jade burner.
I wake from my dream to find myself
Still wearing the gold-petalled hair-piece,
Reclined on my pillows.
Swallows have not come back from the sea,
People are already competing in games of grass.
Riverside plums past their bloom,
Catkins appear on the willows.
Rain drizzles as twilight deepens,
Wetting the garden swing.
1) The Day of Cold Food customarily occurred two days before Qingming (Pure Bright), the fifth solar term in the lunar calendar. On this day people in ancient times abstained from cooking to lament the hermit Jie Zhitui, who let himself be burnt to death rather than obey the summons of the Duke of Jin in the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 B.C.), when the latter set fire to the mountain forest where he was hiding.
Li Qīngzhào huànxīshā
Dàn dàng chūnguāng hánshí tiān, yù lú chén shuǐ niǎo cán yān. Mèng huí shān zhěn yǐn huā diàn.
Hǎiyàn wèi lái rén dòu cǎo, jiāng méi yǐ guò liǔ shēng mián. Huánghūn shū yǔ shī qiūqiān.
Li Qingzhao Washing/Brook/Sand
Insipid/pond/Spring/light/cold/food/day, Jade/burner/immerse/water/delicate/oppressive/smoke. Dream/return/mountain/pillow/hides/flower/ornament.
Sea/swallows/not/come/people/fight/grass, River/plum/already/passed/willows/produce/silk. Yellow/dusk/sparse/rain/moistens/garden-swing.
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